Title: Two Ways About It

Genre: Axis Powers Hetalia, humor/romance

Pairing: Spain/Romano, America/England toward the end, mentions of Greece/Japan.

Rating: M

Word count:

Summary: Written for the APH kink meme over on LiveJournal. Request was Spain taking Romano up on his offer re: marriage proposal.

Part one of the strip this is based off of is at www (dot) livejournal (dot) com/rex_dart/pic/000a1p3a and part two is at www (dot) livejournal (dot) com/rex_dart/pic/000a2dad.


It never occurred to Romano that maybe he didn't know the proper way to accept a marriage proposal. Of course he knew how to accept a marriage proposal. It was in his nature. "Romano" was "on amor" spelled backwards, for fuck's sake. No, this must've been Spain's fault. It'd been a week, and he'd been at Spain's house every day, and the bastard hadn't acknowledged him any differently from before at all.

He hadn't said anything about their new status as fiancés. Or about when he might like to get married. Not even anything about how happy he was, but he must've been happy. Anyone would've been happy to marry Romano. Even that potato-head Germany; he probably cried himself to sleep every night over the fact that he was stuck with the lamer brother.

And worst of all, Spain hadn't made a single attempt to even touch him, not beyond the usual hair ruffling and teasing pokes and pinches that always earned him a half-hearted slap. Everything was so damn normal, and Spain might even have been quieter than usual. Tonight he'd spent all day sitting on the couch next to Romano, all the way down at the other end and not saying much of anything in particular, and Romano just sulked at his end, pretending that Spain wasn't bothering him.

"Are you hungry?"

Romano had been staring out the living room window at the setting sun for twenty minutes now, and Spain hadn't seemed to notice. He turned and blinked at him, surprised at the sudden interruption of his vague thoughts, then remembered he was mad at Spain and narrowed his eyes. To him the action said, "You are an unmitigated jerk." To Spain it apparently seemed more like, "Of course I'm hungry, numbnuts."

"Okay," Spain said with a smile, and he set his book aside and pushed himself up and off the sofa. Romano gritted his teeth as he watched him disappear off toward the kitchen. That son of a bitch. He really had nerve.

He listened to Spain in the kitchen, to pots clattering and a knife against the cutting board, and to Spain himself humming some tune Romano didn't know. And it took a minute, but finally he snapped. He got up, and he since wasn't wearing shoes his feet slamming against the floor didn't make as much of a sound as he wanted. So he picked up Spain's book from the sofa and slammed it to the floor instead before marching off disappointingly quietly into the kitchen.

Spain wasn't even paying attention despite the (admittedly short-lived) noise. He didn't look at Romano when he came in, or as he came across the room and around the island toward him, and in fact from the look on his face when he turned and almost ran into him, he hadn't even noticed that Romano had entered the room at all. "Oh! Hi." He sounded like Romano had just shown up unexpectedly out of nowhere rather than from the couch where Spain had been sitting next to him about three minutes ago.

"You bastard!" After hundreds of years of hearing exactly that from Romano, Spain's only reaction was a smile. Romano glared and added, "Are you ever going to touch me, you moron?"

That smile faltered, and one of Spain's eyes narrowed just slightly. "What?"

"Touch me!" Romano repeated. "This whole thing was your idea and now you act like nothing's changed and you're not holding up your end of the deal – and I'm not talking about food! I'm here, so what are you doing?" He spread his arms out and gestured forcefully, giving Spain a look like he just couldn't comprehend the incredible depth of his stupidity. It was a rather standard expression.

Spain cocked his head very slowly. "Touch you? How?"

"With your damn hands!" Honestly, how stupid was Spain? How empty could one head be? Why had Romano even agreed to marry him?

Well. Because he wanted to marry the bastard. But that didn't change his idiocy. "Just… hug me or… or pull my curl or something! Why haven't you tried to pull my curl?!"

The expression Spain wore now clearly said that he was beginning to wonder if Romano had lost it completely. "You hate it when I pull your curl."

"I do not!" Romano didn't know what could've given Spain that idea, unless it was all the times he had touched that lock of hair and Romano hit him and told him he'd rip his balls off if he ever did it again. Was it so fucking much to ask that people read between the lines? "I had to say that I did because you weren't allowed but now you're supposed to and you're not doing it!"

"What are you—?"

"You haven't even kissed me!"

Eyes widening, Spain leaned back slightly, shaking his head just a bit as though trying to clear it and make sure he'd heard that right. His voice lowered. "Romano, are you feeling all right?" His cheeks were turning distinctly pink, and that definitely was not extremely attractive on him at all. Not at all.

Well, okay, but the fact that it was extremely attractive on him wasn't enough to make up for everything else, though. "No, I am not all right!" Romano jabbed Spain accusingly in the chest with his index finger. "Because I'm engaged to an inconsiderate bastard!"

Silence. Romano waited for an answer, preferably in the form of a profuse and groveling apology. Spain just stared at him. After a few seconds, Romano jabbed him again, which seemed to do the trick. "Engaged?" Spain murmured.

And silence crashed back down on the room. Romano just stared, stunned. Spain swallowed heavily, then drew in a deep breath like he was preparing to speak, but he didn't have a chance to get anything out because Romano snapped, "You asshole," and turned on his heel to leave.

By the time Spain caught up with him, repeatedly calling to him to just hold on and talk for a minute, Romano was nearly out of the house. For a moment, he turned and it looked like he might stay, but then he stepped over the threshold. Spain had his own front door slammed in his face from the outside.


Romano would've liked nothing more than to ignore the fact that his little brother even existed. Well, no, he actually would've liked to hit him over the head with something hard and blunt a little more, but barring that he wanted to pretend he was an only child. Veneziano was difficult to ignore, though, especially since he'd been hanging around their house for three straight days now, the entire time Romano had been home after storming back from Spain's house. Romano kept hinting that Germany would probably get lonely and find someone else's shoelaces to tie if Veneziano didn't get over there, and that Switzerland probably missed having him run across his lawn (well, he did need the target practice), and yet Veneziano insisted on staying home, and on cooking Romano about eight meals a day in an effort to cheer him up.

Romano had taken to hiding in his room with the door locked. It helped a little – at least he hadn't been forced to relate the massively embarrassing tale of woe that had led him to this point so far – but it seemed as though every time he opened his door to try to venture out to the kitchen or bathroom, Veneziano was standing there with a worried smile and a barrage of questions about his emotional state and generally a plate of fresh food. Romano tried his best to ignore this – except for the food – but with only moderate success. His brother's hovering piled more stress on top of what he was already feeling because of that son of a bitch Spain, and on the third afternoon, he finally had enough of it when Veneziano came and actively knocked on his door for the first time.

At first Romano tried to ignore it. He'd been lying in bed watching, quite literally, the minutes ticking by on his alarm clock. At the second knock, he growled and shoved his head under his pillows. He could swear that the third knock got louder to make up for it. At the fourth, he got up and sock-stomped (he'd have to take up wearing jackboots at all times, he thought bitterly) over to the door to fling it open.

He took a deep breath and prepared to yell, but no sound came out. Veneziano was glaring at him. He wasn't intimidating by any means, but the rarity of the occurrence was enough to startle Romano quite badly. Veneziano tightened his arms where they were crossed over his chest, hunched his shoulders, and narrowed his eyes as dangerously as he was capable. "Did you put a hit out on big brother Spain?"

Romano cringed. Getting caught putting a hit out by Veneziano was like getting caught jerking off by the Pope. Both of them had happened to Romano on multiple occasions. "Um… not… really." Veneziano shifted his weight but otherwise didn't move a muscle, as though making sure that Romano knew his expression was keeping up with the conversation, but that he merely wasn't inclined to change it yet. Romano looked away. "It… it was a passive hit." His brother shifted again. He looked up and explained, "They're just supposed to keep him out."

Veneziano's expression faltered a bit, and uncertainty entered his voice. "Well… he said they did warn him first…" He glanced down, but then shook himself a bit and was glaring again with a vengeance. "But that was still wrong!"

It was only then that Romano noticed the wet cloth that was wadded up in the fist that Veneziano had wedged under his forearm. His eyes widened, and he grabbed it from him before Veneziano could react. Parts of it were stained red and pink. Veneziano wasn't bleeding. Suddenly Romano felt even sicker than he'd felt for the past three days. "Oh, fuck."

He was out of his room and halfway to the stairs before he realized that Veneziano was following, and he turned around to point at him, accidentally brandishing the cloth at him at the same time. "Little brother, this is the only time I am ever going to tell you flat out to go visit that potato-headed freak you like to call a friend, but I'm doing it, so go. Please."

It was rare for anyone to get the word please out of Romano, including his brother. It obviously had some sort of effect even on someone as thick as Veneziano, since he slowly nodded and backed up a bit. "O-okay… "

And that was as long as Romano stuck around. He took the stairs three at a time and practically ran though the rooms of the sprawling house until he found where Veneziano had left Spain, on the couch in the drawing room. He was lying there looking like a badly defeated boxer, one arm thrown over his eyes to keep the light from the sunset on the other side of the veranda doors from them and his other hand holding an ice pack against the side of his face. His breathing was so slow and steady it looked like he might have been asleep at first, and Romano supposed this must have been the case from the way he didn't stir at all when he walked in, but then suddenly Spain said, "Let me guess – he's not coming down?"

Romano hadn't heard that tone from Spain in a long time. Maybe Spain hadn't felt defeated since Romano was a child, or maybe he'd just stopped letting that enter into his voice in front of him. Even when he had a really bad day in Pamplona, he never sounded defeated. Romano frowned as he walked over, opened his mouth to ask if Spain was all right.

"You fucking moron." Well. That didn't come out the way he'd wanted. Spain's arm moved and he looked up at Romano, obviously surprised to find him instead of Veneziano standing over him.

"Thanks for the warm welcome." His voice sounded a little hoarse; it matched the bruise blooming across his cheek and the split down one side of his lip.

"They told you to leave," Romano said, and it came out weaker than he would have liked.

"Did you really think that'd work?" Spain asked as he slowly pushed himself upright. He winced and Romano mirrored his expression.


Spain gave him an unamused look. "If we're going to get married, no more mafia. You can hit me yourself next time."

"We're not getting married, remember?" Romano snapped. He knew Spain was thick, but it was sometimes easy to forget just how thick. When someone ran out of his house and didn't come back for days, only Spain would assume that they were still engaged. He'd been dangerously close to regretting the hit and apologizing, but that reminder brought back why he was so angry in the first place.

"What?" Spain exclaimed, standing up a bit unsteadily. "You changed your mind?! I just fought some greasy guy with a bat to get here!"

Romano cringed again, though he tried to hide it. He crossed his arms over his chest and muttered, "You're the one who didn't accept my acceptance. I'm not marrying some idiot who doesn't think I'm worth three meals and a nap."

"I already give you three meals and a nap when you're at my house!"

"That's not the point!" Romano huffed. Actually, he hadn't really considered that fact. But he was still quite sure it wasn't the point. "If that was the point, you would've just… accepted!"

"I'm accepting now!" Spain insisted. "You have to admit that a list of conditions isn't exactly what someone hopes for when they propose."

And that was the first time that it occurred to Romano that maybe he didn't know how to accept a marriage proposal. His thoughts immediately jumped to the defensive. Well, he'd done an all right job; his mistake was forgetting that if you wanted Spain to understand something, you couldn't be subtle. He probably would have done better to construct a giant blinking neon sign reading yes if he wanted to make sure Spain got what he was saying. And hell, even if he wasn't the best at accepting marriage proposals, it wasn't his fault. He'd never received one before.

Besides, Spain was a total ass if he expected Romano to come running into his arms at the prospect of marriage. It didn't matter if he wanted to marry Spain; the fact was that Spain hadn't exactly come running straight to him as soon as his government legalized it, so what did he expect in return? He was lucky Romano was even willing. And now here he was, brooding again and finding few words as he mulled over the same thing that'd been running through his head for the past three days.


"So I gave conditions," Romano snapped suddenly. His arms were crossed over his chest quite tightly now and he was staring adamantly at the carpet. He was starting to lose it, and he hated that, which always made him lose it even faster. His eyes were burning. "What do you expect from your second choice?"

"I don't expect—second choice?"

The surprise in Spain's voice was what made Romano look up, and he quickly wiped his eyes with the back of his wrist. There was no way to be subtle about the action, but he tried anyway. "You always ask my brother first, bastard! Either I have to ask you to let me hang around or you ask me after he doesn't look interested, and—"

"I wasn't asking Veneziano," Spain interrupted, taking a rapid step closer but then hesitating to make any other movements. "I told him because I was excited; I wasn't the only one waiting for the law to change, you know. And if I wanted to ask Veneziano, I wouldn't have hinted. He's too thick to pick up on that."

Romano couldn't help but snort. "Idiot. You were too thick to pick up on me accepting."

"I know I'm thick. That's why I recognize thickness in others." Romano glanced up. Spain was smiling. He quickly turned his face away and tried not to let that affect him, but it was… difficult. Spain's smiles were infectious, even if Romano rarely showed any visible symptoms. When he didn't respond, Spain continued, "I didn't come here to beg your brother to marry me. I came here to see you, and if I have to beg, I'll do it."

Romano blinked. He didn't have a response to that, so after a moment he wrinkled his nose and looked away. His eyes still burned, but at least he didn't feel like he was any closer to having a complete meltdown than he had been ten seconds ago. When Spain didn't speak for a few moments, he glanced back at him. Against his own better judgment, and rightfully so; the bastard looked so damn hopeful. It melted Romano's heart just a little, and the melted part ran from his chest down into his stomach, where it made him nauseous with disgust at his own weakness.

"Do I have to beg?"

Scoffing, Romano tossed his head. "Tch. Like seeing you all pathetic and groveling would make me want to marry you."

There was a twinkle that Spain always got in his eyes right before he said something that he thought was particularly clever. Romano had learned to dread this look, and Spain had it now. "You mean I couldn't convince you by getting on my knees?"

It took a moment for it to sink in. Romano stared, and then he stomped his foot and yelled, "You idiot! You can't just say that kind of thing to a guy! I haven't even said I'll marry you so I don't know why you'd think that's okay unless it's because your head is completely empty and—"

"You were yelling at me for not touching you before!" Spain interrupted. "And now I'm not even allowed to mention the idea of—?"

"I thought we were engaged then!" Romano was fuming. The nerve.

And then Spain laughed. Romano's eyes narrowed dangerously, and just before he could inform him that he could kindly go jump off a bridge, Spain said, "You look like a tomato."

That didn't help Romano's mood at all. Spain had been teasing him about how red he got when he was upset for hundreds of years now, and it hadn't even been funny the first time, so if he—

"You're so cute."

It wasn't the fact that Spain called him cute that put a complete and abrupt stop to Romano's thought processes. It was how close he was suddenly, with just a couple steps. Romano felt his breath hitch, and then again as Spain's hands were suddenly on his hips and tugging him even closer. "Hey!" he exclaimed automatically, his own hands coming up to grab the front of Spain's shirt – ostensibly to keep some distance between them. "I nevermmph!"

Damn it. Fucking damn it. Spain was kissing him. It took a second that seemed like a minute to get the gears in his head to grind back to life, and when they did he knew what he was supposed to do. Tighten his fists in Spain's shirt, use that leverage to shove him away, then tell him at the top of his lungs exactly what he thought of him and make sure none of those thoughts were pleasant in any way.

It wasn't what happened. Oh, his fists tightened in Spain's shirt; the first step went perfectly, but it was all downhill after that. The leverage went to pulling him down so that Romano wouldn't have to stand on his toes to return the kiss. And he was returning it, and there was a sound that he involuntarily let out, but it was definitely nothing like yelling. In fact, he was almost afraid that Spain would pull away and tease him over the fact that he'd made Romano moan in about three seconds flat, so he preempted that possibility by turning his head and parting his lips and making it clear to Spain that if he broke the kiss to make fun of him, he'd be missing out on tongue. And as far as the unpleasant thoughts were concerned, that portion of his plan was an unmitigated failure.

Because suddenly he was thinking a lot of pleasant thoughts. Many of them way too pleasant, but he couldn't really be bothered to care. Something inside him snapped, and a moment later his arms were around Spain's neck, making sure he wasn't going to go anywhere despite the unlikelihood of that happening. When Spain drew Romano's lower lip between his teeth and bit down on it, Romano finally allowed himself to moan again, and when Spain's hands, which had been resting on Romano's back, moved significantly lower, Romano was only too eager to shove his hips forward until their bodies were pressed together as well as their height difference would allow.

Which wasn't as well as Romano wanted. Spain apparently didn't think so either, since after a minute he grabbed Romano's hips and turned him around before pushing him back toward the couch. That was the point at which their lips finally parted and their eyes opened, and even as his senses began to come back to him, Romano didn't think to stop. So what if Spain was an idiot and lazy and way too happy all the time? Didn't matter at all. Romano sat down heavily on the sofa, not breaking eye contact, then reached up and grabbed Spain's shirt to yank him down on top of him.

It took about thirty seconds for Romano to end up on his back. Ten seconds after that, Spain bit his neck, and five seconds later Romano was sure he was going to have a very visible bruise there. A minute after that, Spain grabbed hold of his hair, and Romano couldn't help his reaction. "Chi-iiii-gi." It came out as a low, slow, nearly incoherent noise of pleasure.

Spain immediately stopped what he was doing, lifted his head to get a view of Romano's face, and asked, very slowly, "Is… is that what that is?" He was met with an annoyed glare at the question. It had taken him long enough to realize. At the silence, he tugged it again.

"Ch—chi—" Romano forced himself not to say it by biting his lip. Damn Spain.






"AhhhgoddamnitSpain!" Romano wanted to order him to stop, to threaten him with bodily harm like usual. But he couldn't bring himself to do it. He didn't want him to stop. Unfortunately, Spain did stop a few seconds later as Romano found himself being kissed again, and then Spain was shifting his body and soon they were pressed together head to foot and Romano was half aware of the fact that he was getting quite hard and so was Spain, and something tugged at his mind about that.

But he couldn't think about it too much because Spain's right hand was wandering, under the hem of Romano's shirt, pushing the fabric up as it moved up his side, fingertips tracing along his ribs and dangerously close to his nipple, then down again, over his stomach. And that was when Romano felt those fingers trail over the very rapidly growing bulge in the front of his pants.

His hips struggled to arch up. He had to break their kiss for breath, and his fists tightened around handfuls of the back of Spain's shirt. Spain's touch got a little firmer, and Romano moaned softly, "Ahhh…" Fingers trailed down further between his legs, and another, louder moan. "Ahhhnngh." And then Spain pressed his whole hand down, palm to fingertips, and squeezed. Romano practically yelled. "Ahh—ahhhnnnnngodgetoffofme!"

Half a second later, Spain was on his back on the floor and Romano was sitting up, breath heaving and face utterly red. At the stunned look on Spain's face, rapidly turning to confusion mixed with hurt, a pang of regret shot through Romano. It had taken him a while to come to his senses, but really, Spain should have known better. "That's… that was…" He furrowed his eyebrows. That was the best thing I've ever felt. "No!" he finished lamely.


Romano futilely tried to straighten out his mussed hair and glared half-heartedly. "Bastard. We can't do that until we're married."

Eyes widening, Spain scrambled to sit up. "We what? You have to be kidding me!"

"I don't joke about religion!"

Spain's jaw dropped. "This is a Catholic thing?"

Romano waved a hand in abject exasperation and a bit of disbelief. "You're supposed to be Catholic too!" He was aware that Spain was, well… lapsed.

Sputtering, Spain looked up at him from his spot on the floor for a moment like he couldn't think of anything to say to that. A few seconds and he finally got out a muttered, "I always liked being Muslim better."

"Fine with me, blasphemer," Romano said, crossing his arms over his chest. It really didn't matter to him what religion Spain preferred; that was hardly consequential. "Doesn't change the fact that we're not doing anything until we're married."

"You're a terrible Catholic!"

"I am not!" Romano spat, shoulders hunching in irritation. Yeah, maybe he had his moments of weakness. But sex wasn't a little moment of weakness. It was a big moment of weakness, and one he'd so far managed to avoid. And he could at least pretend that doing so had been some sort of a challenge.

"This is ridiculous," Spain grumbled, voice still laced with disbelief. "You want it."

"Do not."

"You're hard."


Spain raised his voice a little in response. "So what are you afraid of? Getting pregnant? You're male, Romano!"

Romano could feel himself getting all hot and flustered at the thought of how exactly Spain could impregnate him… if he were, of course, capable of getting pregnant. "Stranger pregnancies have happened!" he countered stubbornly.


"In the Bible!"

Spain went silent for a long moment. "Touché."

"If you want sex, hurry up and marry me," Romano said, and his tone and the way he looked away and turned his nose up said that that was the final word on the matter. Spain's posture slumped, and for a long moment he didn't say anything at all.

And then, "So… we're engaged again?"


Most people spent months trying to put together the perfect wedding. Theirs was planned over a single dinner. Well, it was as far as they could see. They both wanted to wear suits. Maybe they could coordinate the colors of their vests or something, but it wasn't a huge deal if that didn't work out. They wanted rings, and to write their own vows, and for it to be somewhere nice. A Cathedral, they decided. They agreed on what food to serve afterward in about a minute and a half, since anything one suggested was fine with the other being as everything either suggested had a good amount of tomato. As for the band, they agreed on "a good one" and that was that. So they figured. And they agreed, as they cleared the table after the meal, that planning weddings was easy.

Then they made out on the counter next to the sink for ten minutes and afterward likewise (and quite breathlessly) agreed that waiting for weddings was hard.

It took them a few days to tell anyone despite the difficulty of waiting, but in the end they each only had to tell one person. Spain dropped it into conversation with France. France looked, for a fleeting second, like all his hopes and dreams had been crushed. Spain didn't notice it, just like he hadn't noticed the myriad instances of extremely inappropriate touching he'd suffered at France's hands over the years, and that was why he didn't realize that France was briefly mourning the loss of any chance he figured he'd ever have of actually getting past unnoticed inappropriate touching with his favorite neighbor.

Not that he'd been carrying a torch. France didn't carry torches. He was just keenly aware of opportunities lost. He'd have felt the same way when Austria told him he was marrying Hungary, except for the fact that he'd already been there.

And a split second later, France had forgotten all about the uncharted waters that he would never now sail anyway, because he was too busy going into the same grandiose speech he'd once given Austria about honeymoons… slightly modified.

Romano was gloating when he prepared to tell Veneziano he was engaged. For the week before when he'd wrongly thought he was engaged, he hadn't bothered to tell Veneziano because he'd been under the assumption that the other two people in the room aside from Spain when he proposed had also heard an acceptance from him. It wasn't until after he realized Spain hadn't heard it that he realized that Veneziano probably hadn't heard it either.

He was actually quite pleased about this. Romano enjoyed gloating. He didn't get to do it as much as he liked, though. In fact, he almost never got to gloat. Gloating in front of Germany about all the wonderful things he'd been eating recently that weren't mushy potatoes never seemed to have the effect that he wanted or be as satisfying as it should have. This promised to be very fulfilling, though. So Veneziano was a better artist. So he was better at trade. So he always managed to make powerful friends.

So what? He'd never managed to get married. Romano had beaten him to something, and Veneziano would probably never even catch up. When Romano looked to the future, he saw Veneziano and the potato bastard living out their lives together as two awkward virgins – one of them too thick to even think of actually having sex and the other one unable to find just the right instruction manual for the job.

Hah. And therefore Romano got to gloat. Self-satisfaction was dripping from his voice when he came into the kitchen while Veneziano was cooking and announced that he was engaged. But all that smugness drained out of him when Veneziano dropped the utensil he was using to stir his pasta into the boiling water and stared at him for a long moment, then burst into tears. That wasn't what he'd been expecting at all; Romano kicked himself as he ran around the kitchen island to grab Veneziano by the shoulders and start apologizing as quickly as he could for making him so upset.

But then Veneziano grabbed him and pulled him into a back-breaking hug and exclaimed that he was just so happy for his big brother, and against all reason that annoyed Romano. His gloating hadn't worked at all; Veneziano was so purely ecstatic he was crying. He was too dumb to even be jealous.

Romano just couldn't fucking win.

Those two conversations happened on the same day. And then France told England and England told America and America told Japan and Veneziano told Germany and Germany told Austria and Austria told Hungary, and by the next afternoon everyone knew, and Spain and Romano knew that everyone knew because everyone was knocking on their doors.

It was after England knocked on Spain's that they found out that they hadn't, in fact, planned their wedding at all.


The knock woke Spain from a nap. It was half past eleven in the morning, but sometimes Spain liked to take naps a little early. So whoever was there was knocking for the third time by the time Spain managed to drag himself off the couch and through the front hall. When he finally got the door open, he was only moderately surprised to find England there looking exceedingly cranky.

The cranky part wasn't surprising. In their long history together, England had traditionally only worn two expressions in front of Spain: cranky and gloating. Spain had, in the past few hundred years, largely learned to ignore this, so he countered the scowl with a smile now. "Hello," he yawned.

"You idiot!" England exclaimed, pushing past Spain into the house. Spain took barely any notice of this beyond the fact that it put England on his other side quite abruptly. He shut the door.

"It's nice to see you too, England." Spain squeezed one eye shut and playfully added in his roughest voice, "How arrrrr you?"

One could almost see the hackles raising on the back of England's neck. Spain wondered if he'd ever get over the fact that no one took pirates seriously anymore. "Shut up," England snapped. "I didn't come all the way here to screw around."

"Of course not," Spain said, slipping his hands into his pockets. "We agreed that was a one-time thing."

Sputtering, England simply stood there, rapidly turning more and more red for a good few seconds. "I… you… fff, idiot!"

"Yes, you said that already."

"It bears repeating!" England looked about ready to literally burst. Spain was really a very congenial person, but there was just something so satisfying about a little harmless payback for the Armada now and then. England could hold a grudge, but so could Spain. His grudges were just usually a little less high-strung.

"Are you hungry?" Spain asked suddenly. "I just woke up."

England actually faltered for a second before answering. He was well aware that Spain could cook, and extremely well. "No, I am not hungry, and now is not the time for you to be thinking about food! Do your people know that you want to get married?"

Eyebrows quirked, Spain pursed his lips in thought for a second. "If I told everyone, they'd all expect to be invited. I'm starving." The last part seemed to be little more than a throwaway excuse for the fact that a moment later he was walking off in the direction of the kitchen. England huffed audibly, then jogged a few steps to catch up with him.

"Did you even tell your boss?"

"I plan on inviting him to the wedding, so he'll find out then. Do you like basil?" England now found himself standing, arms crossed, on one side of Spain's kitchen island while Spain dug through his fridge on the other. The time that England could remember when Spain occasionally showed interest in something other than food, sleep, and Southern Italy seemed very far removed from the present.

"You haven't thought this through at all, have you?" England snapped. "How do you think your people are going to feel about your joining with half of another sovereign nation?"

Spain turned around with an armful of bread, cheese, and tomatoes and toed the fridge door shut. "They aren't going to know about it, but I'd like to think that if they did they'd feel happy for me. And maybe a little aroused."

"I didn't mean that kind of joining, you nitwit!"


England leaned forward on the island and said, very slowly and very loudly, "Don't you think your people are going to notice when they find themselves living in some kind of horrible geographically disjointed Hispano-Italian pseudo-monarchical bilingual quadricameral republic from hell?"

One of Spain's eyes narrowed, and he turned his head slightly as he gave England a look like he was busy trying to appraise his soundness of mind, and then he snorted in amusement. "This isn't that kind of marriage. There are no politics involved."


Pulling a knife out of the block on the counter, Spain shrugged slightly. "You know. It's just a normal marriage. It's not all about business these days."

England stared long and hard at Spain, but Spain didn't notice the scrutiny; he was too busy slicing a tomato. The sight, to England, was rather disconcerting. The reminder that Spain ate tomatoes and didn't just pile them up in baskets and love them like they were his own children always seemed rather distasteful. He shook himself. "So what is it about, then?"

"Love," Spain said matter-of-factly, giving England a look like he was almost offended that not everyone knew that already.

"Love?" England exclaimed. It came out more forcefully than he'd intended, causing Spain to jump. "Since when does love require marriage? You two don't pay taxes and can't have kids and it's not like you need some grand declaration since everyone already knows you're unhealthily codependent and have been sleeping together forever anyway, so what's the—"

"We haven't."




"Slept together," Spain clarified. "We haven't."

With that, England's demeanor changed entirely and suddenly, or at least the focus of his righteous indignation and moral outrage did. He leaned forward as though this conversation was now the most urgent matter in the world. "You're kidding! What are you waiting for? Are you blind?" Spain had stopped cutting and was merely staring now. He took a short step back, and maybe his fingers tightened around the knife in his hand just a little, because England looked about ready to climb over the counter and throttle him.


England slammed both hands down on the marble of the countertop. "You idiot! Can't you read him at all, or are you really that dense? He worships the ground you walk on! He always has! You could've had him in bed centuries ago! Do you know what you've been missing? Do you have any idea?!"

"I've thought about it," Spain replied, and England slammed a fist down, because it was quite obvious that in his mind, thinking was nowhere near good enough.

"He's probably amazing in bed! I mean, he's all talk and no action! You could top the hell out of him! And do you have any idea how kinky he probably is?"

"Um, England, do you think you could stop talking about my fiancé like that?" Spain asked. He was cringing a little, not particularly fond of the mental images this was putting into his head.

"No!" England insisted, straightening up and crossing his arms over his chest indignantly. He looked at Spain down the length of his nose and declared, "You're squandering a precious resource!"

Spain tried to keep from rolling his eyes. England was probably just this cranky because he most likely wasn't having any sex himself, which meant that Spain could easily snipe back about how England was squandering America, but he managed not to. "I'm not squandering," he said. "Romano is Catholic."

"So are you; what's your point?"

"No, he's really Catholic," Spain said, giving England a meaningful stare. Spain knew it had been awhile, but surely England hadn't forgotten what being Catholic was like. It took a long moment, but finally realization dawned across England's features, like the very belated rising of a rather oblivious sun.

"Oh my god."


"No wonder you want to marry him," England said, his voice much quieter than it had been since he barged into the house.

"That's not why I want—"

"Oh please," England scoffed. "You can talk to me like a bloody adult, especially when it's a damned emergency!"

"An emergency?"

"You want sex, don't you?" England always had been quite sure, Spain had long since discovered, that everyone else was secretly just as perverted as he was deep down in the very core of their beings. In most cases, he was to some degree mistaken, but in this case Spain did actually want sex quite badly. It wasn't like he'd been actively thinking about it for an enormously long time, but he'd loved Romano for what felt like forever and at some point that had changed to being in love with Romano, and now that those feelings (or something like them, Romano had never said) were known to be returned, something had sort of cracked inside Spain.

It was on his mind all the time now. He tried not to let it show, but when England asked if he wanted sex, the answer that immediately sprang to mind was not, "Well, yes, I suppose." It was more along the lines of, "I want to give him something to stop complaining about. I want to pull his hair until he comes, even if it takes hours. I want to take him to la Tomatina and lick him clean afterward."

What he said was, "Well, yes, I suppose."

"So have you planned anything yet?"

"Yeah, we talked about it, but—"

"So who's officiating?"

"…A priest."

England did not look impressed with this answer. Spain vaguely wondered if maybe he was supposed to know of the priest he wanted, but then England asked, "And where is it going to be?"

"A church?"

This answer didn't seem all that much better, if England's eyebrows were anything to go off of. "And when were you going to have this priest come to this church and marry you?"

Spain very nearly answered, "I'm not marrying a priest, I'm marrying Romano," but he caught himself just before the words could tumble out of his mouth and replied instead, "Soon, I hope."

Voluntarily throwing his hands up in defeat for the very first time in front of Spain, England exclaimed, "You are an unmitigated fool! You haven 't planned anything at all, have you?"

"We talked about it."

"And now you're no closer to getting married than you were before you talked about it, are you?"

"Well, temporally…"

Suddenly Spain found himself with England's index finger pressed over his lips, silencing him. Normally he would've considered the action flirtatious, but when England did it, it came off as a threat. "Shut up and get me a phonebook," he said lowly. "I can't trust you to do anything."

Spain wondered why suddenly this was a matter of England trusting him, but England was the kind of guy who spent his afternoons talking to himself, so sometimes it was better to just let things slide. "Who are you calling?"

When England rolled his eyes, it was in such a grandly exaggerated manner it almost looked physically painful. "Priests and cathedrals first, apparently. Get the bloody phonebook, would you?"

Spain narrowed his eyes and cocked his head slightly, but then decided that if England suddenly wanted to be helpful (even if only because he was such a horrible pervert), he had no reason to refuse and every reason not to. But before he turned to go and find what England had requested, he said, a little tentatively, "Do you think we could do this before la Tomatina?"

For a long, long moment, England just stared at him like he couldn't figure out what the hell being married before la Tomatina had to do with anything. But then, slowly, one corner of his mouth twitched and was followed by the most evil grin Spain had seen on him since the sixteenth century. When he spoke again, his voice had commuted to practically a purr. "Phone book. Hurry up."

On the one hand, Spain kind of regretted asking. He should've known that England was enough of a sexual deviant to see what he was thinking, and now he felt flushed and like he was suddenly not wearing anything at all. On the other hand, maybe England was right. Maybe this was an emergency.


There had not been a single moment, in the time from when he'd gotten engaged to the time that Spain told him that England fancied himself an extremely cranky and overbearing wedding planner to the actual morning of their wedding (which was admittedly simple but still looked very nice, not that he would ever tell England that) that Romano had gotten cold feet. He'd felt surprisingly calm about this whole marriage thing. It felt good. It felt right.

Then everyone showed up. The bishop who was in charge of the venue looked distinctly perturbed. Romano knew this was Spain's favorite church, so he'd gone straight to the Pope to secure it – and been very thankful that he'd until this point managed to avoid the current pontiff enough not to develop any major enmity yet.

The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption was over fourteen hundred years old, and now for the very first time there was a panda in it. For some reason, this didn't appear to please the bishop of Córdoba, though the significantly less sour-looking priest Spain had brought from the church near his house to officiate just smiled kindly at everyone as they arrived and didn't even seem to mind when the cat that had come in with Greece or Japan or possibly both started rubbing against his legs and getting fur all over his vestments.

Fortunately the bishop wasn't likely to say anything. He'd been about to at one point, but the death glare Romano had shot his way seemed to have killed any possible protestations, and maybe the knowledge that if Romano – or, worse, Veneziano – went to the Pope and turned on the waterworks, he ran the risk of being excommunicated.

Even if Romano had committed a teeny little sin in telling the Pope that he was marrying a girl in the first place. He'd gone to confession and done his penance for the transgression, but he still had to hold back a snort whenever he thought about it.

He wasn't laughing now, though. They didn't exactly have a guest list a mile long, and everyone who was there was a nation, so it wasn't even like he was having to put up with heads of state. He'd gotten into physical altercations with his current boss on more than one occasion and they were no longer on speaking terms – not altogether an unusual situation for Romano. And they'd thrown together this whole thing on such short notice that Spain's bosses had both had to decline but sent their best regards as well as gifts that they hadn't, of course, unwrapped yet but which probably contained something expensive and utterly useless.

It was a relief, not having to deal with all of that. Romano still remembered how awkward Austria and Hungary's wedding had been, and he really couldn't cope with Very Important People being around right now. It was always vaguely embarrassing when their bosses got to see how nations interacted with each other on an informal level. But now he was finding the wedding as it was without them vaguely embarrassing. Even if people found him abrasive, he still kept to himself most of the time and didn't really get involved in world affairs, and as he stood next to the altar with his arms crossed over his chest so tightly he was probably wrinkling his suit and stared at everyone as they arrived, he felt more exposed than he could ever remember.

Maybe it was the fact that people were paying attention to him, or maybe it was the fact that people kept smiling at him. He wasn't used to that.

And he would've liked to say that when Spain finally came in and smiled at him (signaling that they were about ready to start, not that they'd started, because neither of them was going to be subject to an embarrassing march down the aisle with awful organ accompaniment, oh no) he took one look at him and his face and remembered what he was here for and knew in that moment that everything would be okay, because it was his wedding day. But that wasn't how it went. Spain came in and smiled at him and he felt his stomach turn over and his face go bright red.

He ducked his head to get his bangs to fall over his face when everybody finally sat down, but Spain reached over and brushed them back again, earning a half-hearted glare that was met with nothing but a smile. Romano glanced over. There was Japan, petting the cat in Greece's lap next to him in a way that didn't really look appropriate in church. There was Germany, staring at a spot just behind Romano where he knew Veneziano was standing, which made Romano scowl slightly. There was America, blowing a big pink bubble because he'd taken up chewing gum to keep his mouth busy when he wasn't allowed to actually eat somewhere. There were Finland and Sweden, and it occurred to Romano that it was strange that he and Spain were standing here instead of those two. There was Hungary, who caught his gaze and gave him a big thumbs up and—and was that a leer?

Romano's back straightened and he quickly trained his eyes back on Spain and resolved not to look at anyone else in the room except for the priest for the rest of the proceedings. And he made good on that. He looked at Spain, and Spain looked at him, and he tried to take in everything the priest was saying, but it was a little hard because to be perfectly honest Romano's mind was not on the formalities of this so much as it was on the fact that everyone was looking at them and the fact that once they got out of here he could stop shoving Spain off of him every time they got carried away.

He'd already been on edge, but that thought just added fuel to the fire and made his body feel hot all over. He was sweating under his collar. This is a sacrament! Stop it! He furrowed his eyebrows a little and set his jaw and thought adamantly about the Virgin and what good company he'd been in all this time. Virginity is overrated, she told him. And you're a bad Catholic anyhow. In his mind's eye, she smiled. God damn it!

It seemed like hours before the word vows cropped up. On the one hand, it was a relief, because now it felt like the ceremony was getting somewhere. On the other hand, Romano suddenly felt like he had a rock in his stomach, because instead of just standing here being stared at, he now had to stand here and be stared at while he talked. He looked up at Spain, and Spain was still just smiling and Romano didn't know how he could look so relaxed all the damn time. They'd kind of gone over this beforehand, but it hadn't really been thorough and he wasn't sure who was supposed to go first.

"Romano," Spain said suddenly. Romano looked up at him, and it took him a second to realize that Spain had taken the initiative. He breathed a sigh of relief. "When you first came to live with me—" Spain continued, and Romano realized he didn't even have anything written down. Damn it, he was good. "—it took less than a week for me to go running to Austria to beg him to let me have your brother instead. And it took me about three seconds once I got back to regret going, because I realized that Austria would've been able to handle you, but he wasn't the sort of person you needed. Then again, maybe I wasn't either, since I'm pretty sure I screwed our relationship up pretty bad by doing that. I don't think you've ever really gotten over it.

"And I do have to admit that my life would be a lot simpler without you. You're not easy to live with, Romano. You're loud and messy, you eat enough for a family of four, and you complain more than anyone else I've ever known. But on the other hand, look how I've been since you moved out. I just sit around all day when you're not around. I take too many naps and eat too much, and my house is just… empty.

"Things aren't as exciting in Europe anymore, and I'm too complacent now. I need conflict, and conflict with you is the only kind I really miss when it's gone. I love having you give me a hard time. So even though I know you'll deny it, I know that you've spent most of your life thinking that I'd trade you in if I could because living together isn't easy. What you never realized is that I haven't wanted something easy in a long time, and even if I did, it wouldn't matter because I'd still love you."

Romano was left just staring up at Spain, silently. Some might have found his vows backhanded. Romano didn't, and they were meant for him so it didn't matter what others thought of them. Somehow, Spain had found exactly what Romano needed to hear; he'd needed acknowledgement of the fact that their life together wasn't all roses. You couldn't point out that problems were irrelevant if you didn't acknowledge that they existed in the first place.

So maybe what Spain had said wouldn't sound remarkable to anyone else, and maybe nobody else realized that neither of them had ever said that they loved the other until now, but that didn't matter. Romano was still trembling slightly. After a long moment, he realized that everyone was looking at him and waiting, so he reached into his pocket clumsily and pulled out the little card he'd written his vows on.

He looked at it, but he didn't speak. Everything about this whole ceremony felt keenly artificial all of a sudden. Weddings took the most pure and real thing in life and dressed it up in awkward clothes and arbitrary ceremony and assigned seating. It was ridiculous, and Romano hadn't even been able to find the words for his vows that could properly express what he was feeling and what this meant, because he hadn't been able to articulate either even within his own mind.

So he'd written something on the card that was an awkward and arbitrary way of expressing something that in itself was neither, and he looked down at it now and realized that what it said was completely inadequate and not what he wanted to say in response to exactly what he'd wanted to hear, and now he couldn't read it anyway because his vision had gone all blurry. He hated how easily he could be reduced to tears, but he didn't care right now.

He looked up and Spain was staring at him like a deer in headlights, obviously becoming more and more worried the longer Romano didn't talk, and he had to say something and Spain deserved honesty and suddenly he found himself blurting out, unthinkingly and too loudly, "You're the only person who's ever given me any sense of self-worth at all."

He supposed that there was little that he could expect when he closed his mouth again besides silence. After all, he was meant to be the only one talking right now. But when it came, it felt deafening with the realization of what he'd just admitted to in front of everyone they knew. He'd found this whole thing vaguely embarrassing, but now he could feel his face heating up, and he looked down and had to force himself to plow ahead. He couldn't just say one sentence. But he was still rather mortified, so the rest of the words came out a little too quickly. "I mean… it doesn't take much to break my confidence, but you're the only one who ever puts it back together again. I can't do it myself, so I need you. I've always needed you. And… it's not even that. I want you. I love you. So… so that's how I feel."

Snapping his mouth shut again, Romano made it perfectly clear that he wasn't going to say any more right now, because it was hard enough saying that. His ears felt like they were on fire. He glanced up at

the people who were watching him, barely registering their reactions – assuming, of course, that they were in fact reacting in some visual way – and it hit him what exactly he'd gotten himself into. He knew, deep down, that when other nations looked at him they saw someone weak, someone unremarkable, and now they were going to see someone who was admittedly weak and unremarkable and hopelessly codependent on someone who had at least at one time achieved glory as a nation that he himself never had and almost certainly never would.

He could feel what composure he had beginning to crack, but then he felt Spain's hand around his own, and when he looked up Spain was staring at him like he was the only other person in the room – the only other person in the world – and for the first time that he could remember, what everyone else thought of him really didn't matter to Romano at all. It was a good thing he'd gone and lost his head over Spain, of all people. Spain had the kind of passion that could make everything else seem trivial, and when he focused it on Romano… it made everyone else seem trivial.

"Spain," he heard himself whisper, and he leaned forward a little, and he thought that Spain was leaning forward a little but it was hard to tell because their eyes were locked, and if he'd gotten Spain to look at him like this a day, a week, a month, a century ago… all bets would've been off, and he never would've made it to his wedding day a virgin. God would've just had to understand. Just like their guests would understand if Romano grabbed Spain right now and threw him over the altar and tore his clothes off, right? Because that was what was about to—

And then the priest said something about rings, and the elderly-man-of-God voice and the fact that his brother was grabbing his other hand and pressing a warm, slightly damp ring (he'd probably been clutching it in his pocket to make sure he didn't lose it through the whole ceremony) into his palm turned out to be an incredibly effective dose of cold water. He glanced down at his hand, then back up at Spain, and he knew he was wearing a slightly mournful look.

Spain smiled, and Romano would later realize that when he smiled back, it was probably the first time most of the other nations had seen him do so. Ever.


The nice thing about a wedding between nations, Spain thought, was that there was very little of this nonsense about in-laws. Everyone was already acquainted, had been forever. Okay, well, maybe that wasn't a nice thing. Spain wasn't sure if it made things run more smoothly that way or not.

It was hard to tell through all the alcohol. Alcohol was practically an invited guest at any non-business meetings any given group of them had – and at far too many of the business ones as well. It was opened and passed around almost before the food was even served at the reception, and with the speed that the food was served, that was really saying something. So maybe this one big dysfunctional family thing was making things go better, but whether or not it was was difficult to say when inebriation was counteracting it at every turn.

Not to say that everyone was immediately plastered. Not everyone was so crass. But the best man was, and it was a very drunken France who had to give the customary speech. Romano had been finding ample time between eating and glaring half-heartedly at their guests for daring to stick around now that he was an eligible virgin rather than an eligible bachelor to make eyes at Spain – eyes that plainly said that he was experiencing some sort of X-ray vision where Spain's clothes were concerned. So it wasn't until France actually stood up from the table and raised a glass that Spain realized that there was a speech coming at all.

He realized at the same time that the bottle of Bordeaux near France's plate had been full not twenty minutes ago. Oh, hell.

"I believe that it's my duty to propose a toast," France started, setting a hand heavily on Spain's shoulder. "To my favorite neighbor, for at long last climbing the tall, unforgiving tree of love and obtaining the sweetest, ripest fruit on it – a fruit which has managed to avoid even my exceptionally high and delicate grasp."

There was a slight murmur of amusement from many of the guests, and one extremely loud guffaw from down the table – England must have been drinking quite a bit as well. Even Spain wasn't thick enough to suppose that this was France's attempt to compliment the chef's delectable strawberry tart. Eyes widening in horror, he looked over at Romano to find that with the color his face was turning, he did actually look like some sort of very ripe fruit. "Oh no."

"Many years have passed when I would have told you that I knew all that there was to know about love," France said, gesturing broadly. Another bottle of wine had somehow appeared in one hand and sloshed all over France's cuff when he did so. Had that been there a second ago? "I would have assured you that I knew all its passions, its subtleties, its positions—"

France was standing on Spain's right side. The sharp noise of utmost puritanical offense that punctuated this came from Spain's left. Spain grabbed hold of France's jacket hem and tugged it hard. France didn't seem to notice. "—but I realize, looking at Spain and his petit amant, that I did not truly grasp the full scope of what l'amour could be. I did not realize that instead of rose petals and moonlit nights, it could be about tomatoes and temper tantrums."

"France!" Spain hissed. His eyes moved from France (who wasn't paying any heed to anything but the thought of what he was planning on saying next) to England (who was slumped forward on the table laughing helplessly) to Romano (whose hand was tightening around a butter knife that was the sharpest implement currently at his disposal) and then back to France. France had been addressing everyone at large, but now Spain was horrified to find that his attention, and the direction of his speech, had shifted solely to himself. France leaned forward almost conspiratorially, using the hand on Spain's shoulder for balance, and spilled a little bit of his wine on Spain's shoe in the process.

"Mon ami," France said. It was immediately obvious that he thought his voice was at an appropriate volume for a serious conversation between close friends, but unfortunately, in reality it was still inappropriately loud (as well as obnoxious). "You have taught me things I never knew of love. I'm not entirely sure what things, specifically, but they are important ones. Ones that have to do with loyalty and commitment and the relationship of the human heart—" He tapped his chest illustratively. "—and the human body." This time he definitely didn't tap his chest.

Spain didn't even have to turn and look at Romano to grab him by the back of the collar and hold him forcibly down in his seat, and he knew the strangled sound that elicited from Romano was out of anger and not because he was actually being strangled.

"And because you have taught me something about love," France continued, "I have decided that it is only right that I return the favor and share some of my own wisdom with you." With ever-growing horror, Spain realized that France had now set the bottle of wine down and produced from his pocket a note card full of his easily-recognizable flowery script.

"Madre de dios," Spain whispered, and it was rather less of an exclamation and more of a half-hearted prayer that perhaps France would be struck down where he stood by a convenient bolt of lightning. All he'd wanted was for his wedding – his completely apolitical wedding – to be the one international gathering that didn't end in physical violence.

He turned to look at Romano to tell him to please try to calm down enough not to stab France in the throat with his butter knife while Spain undertook an effort (and surely a monumental one) to get France to pay attention, see reason, and ultimately close his trap.

"Let go of me, bastard!" Romano growled, and though his words were aggressive, the look in his eyes was almost pleading. Thirty seconds. Just give me thirty seconds and half of a broken wine bottle.

"Number one," France began. Oh, god, he had a list. "On the subject of lubricant."

In the following split second, two things happened. One: Spain witnessed the sudden transformation of Southern Italy from merely a very angry nation into a nuclear state. Two: France shrieked instead of continuing whatever it was that he'd had to say about lube. There was a clattering of porcelain and glass including the distinct sound of something probably very expensive breaking, and Spain turned to find that Switzerland had grabbed France from behind and Japan had literally jumped up and climbed across the table to slam a hand over France's mouth.

Spain let go of Romano's collar and a moment later Romano was on his feet, yelling at France at a rate of about seventy obscenities per minute. For once in recent history France wouldn't stop struggling, and while Spain was sitting there quite sure his wedding was falling apart around him, he noticed the card in France's hand slip out of his fingers and fall onto the table. England was laughing so hard he was crying now, but somehow he noticed it as well, and stopped laughing. America was trying to get his attention, but England just stared at the card for a long second, then got half out of his chair so he could reach across the table and rescue it from the fray.

As Spain watched England slip it into his pocket, thinking that in the commotion no one was looking, he saw America's face go slack, and an unreadable but vaguely frightened look cross his face.

That was when he started laughing and just couldn't stop. Even as Germany, followed blindly by an overenthusiastic Veneziano, jumped across the table to wrestle away the gun that Switzerland had suddenly produced from the shoulder holster that Spain probably should've known was under his tuxedo, he couldn't stop giggling, and when France fell to the ground and took about four other countries with him, Spain grabbed hold of Romano's hand to keep him from jumping into the fray and instead yanked him down into his lap.

"Damn it!" Romano exclaimed as he landed hard, draped across Spain's thighs and looking extremely put out. "It's not fair, everyone else gets to—"

"Dammi un bacio," Spain interrupted with a low voice and a broad smile.

Romano froze, mouth half open in protestation, and just stared at Spain for a long moment. He knew that a lot of people thought that Italian was a romantic language. He, being Italy, had never looked at it that way, but suddenly he understood what non-native speakers might have heard that made them go weak in the knees.

He could barely remember the last time Spain had spoken Italian with him. These days laziness on Spain's part and stubbornness on Romano's made it so that most of their conversations were bilingual. Suddenly all thought of revenge on France for utterly mortifying him was gone, and Romano was sitting up and grabbing hold of the lapels of Spain's jacket to gain leverage. "Haré más que besarte, idiota," he whispered just before he pressed their lips together. No one could ever say that Romano never returned favors, or that he never did as he was told.

He was aware that there were a lot of people that might be staring at them right now. He was also aware of the sound of shattering glass and splintering wood and shouts in a dozen different languages around them as the Eighth Coalition formed in an anti-French offensive that made the Napoleonic Wars look like an afternoon stroll down the Champs-Élysées. Ironically, the original, literal Champs-Élysées sounded like it might be where France was going to end up if he didn't stop fighting back, but Romano didn't care about any of that. They were distracted, and even if they hadn't been he wouldn't have been able to muster the will to really mind.

Spain's eyes had gone a little foggy when Romano finally let go of his lower lip and sat back. He rested an elbow on Spain's shoulder, trying to appear more relaxed than he was, and faux-idly reached up to twirl his hair around his index finger. Spain's eyes widened, and Romano smirked a little. He knew that Spain was the only one in the room that would realize that the seemingly innocent action was really rather obscene. Well, unless Veneziano or the potato bastard was looking this way, which from the sound of things they were not.

"Why did we invite these morons?" Romano asked.

"You mean our family and friends?" Spain's voice was rather weak, and his demeanor distracted.


"I honestly have no idea."

Romano ran his fingers along Spain's lapel, lowered his head and looked up at him through his eyelashes. "Can we go home while they're distracted?" He knew they were supposed to go off together somewhere, though they hadn't really made any concrete plans in advance, but right now he just wanted to be back at Spain's house. It was where most of the rest of their life together had happened, and it sounded more appealing at the moment than any hotel room.

Damn it, I've been married all of three hours and I'm already turning into a sentimental idiot.

It took barely a split second for Spain to grab Romano, hoist him back to his feet, and stand up. "Before they notice."


As soon as Spain's front door was unlocked, Romano pushed it open, grabbed Spain by the collar, practically threw him into the house, and slammed the door again. He'd managed to be restrained on the way home, mostly keep his hands to himself, not say anything inappropriate… He'd been good.

He was not in the mood to be good anymore. Spain looked quite startled at the sudden change in demeanor, but Romano barely gave him the time to recover. He grabbed Spain's tie and yanked it loose as he drove him back until he was pressed up against the entryway wall. So he'd never done this. So he wasn't really sure what he was doing. So what? He knew the theory. He wanted it. He'd take it. The tie was undone, but he left it around Spain's neck and used it to pull him down to his own level and kiss him.

The kiss was hard and insistent, and if Spain had had any concerns about whether or not Romano was going to try to pull some blushing bride act about tonight, he'd have no reason whatsoever to worry about it now. Romano's tongue pushed past his lips and his hands came up to the sides of his head to make sure he didn't pull away. He tugged Spain down further, leaned in closer, tilted his head to kiss him as deeply as he could.

That elicited a soft moan, and then a sharper one as Romano pulled back enough to bite down on Spain's lower lip, and he was vaguely aware of Spain shifting a little bit – removing his jacket, Romano realized – before he felt hands on his sides. They slipped under his own jacket, making their way up his sides and then over his chest, and then they grabbed hold of his lapels.

That was when Romano finally came up for air, and he let go of Spain and lowered his arms to allow him to push the jacket off. He smirked. And then, to his surprised, Spain smirked back, and a moment later he pushed the jacket off Romano's shoulders, pulling it down until it was around his forearms, and then he yanked it tight, pinning Romano's arms to his sides.

Romano's eyes widened and he gasped slightly. "What…?"

There was a look in Spain's eyes that Romano couldn't remember ever seeing before, and it sent a chill down his spine – though not at all in a bad way. It was possessive. "I spoil you, Romano," Spain said, leaning in close like was going to kiss Romano again but not quite getting that far. "Even when you lived with me, you were the one giving the orders, and I've always let you."

Meeting Spain's eyes a little defiantly, Romano murmured, "Because you thought I was cute."

"Because I loved you," Spain countered. "It's always been because in one way or another, I love you." He shifted the task of holding the front of Romano's jacket to his left hand, and his right came up to tangle in the hair at the back of Romano's head. "Now don't get me wrong, because I'm probably gonna wake up tomorrow and go straight back to letting you do as you please all the time, but I'm telling you right now, I'm more than capable of asserting myself."

Romano drew in a long breath, and when he let it back out, he could hear himself let out a soft sigh. Almost like he was about to swoon or some shit, he thought, and for some reason he couldn't bring himself to care. He was still giving Spain a rather insolent look, but he could also feel a slight smile on his face that he couldn't quash. He knew Spain was capable of more than he let on nowadays; he'd ruled a lot more than Romano once. But he simply asked, "Is that so?"

"You've never seen me take what I want."

Now Romano's face broke into a broad grin, and he looked up at Spain through his eyelashes as he said, "Yes, I have." And then he pushed against Spain's grasp on him, leaning in and brushing their lips together fleetingly. "But only when what you wanted was me."

He glanced up from where he'd focused on Spain's mouth, and their eyes met, and Romano could see the second it took Spain to remember the wars against the Ottoman Empire. Maybe he'd never realized how significant they were for Romano. Maybe he'd never known it was the first time Romano realized that he was worth anything at all. Their breaths mingled together, their lips inches apart. And then Spain smiled. "This isn't quite the same."

He let go of Romano's jacket, letting it slip off the rest of the way and fall to the floor; a split second later Romano was grabbing hold of Spain's shirt and pulling him back toward the sitting room. "It's not?" he asked as Spain stumbled a little before their steps fell into stride. "Isn't this all about the fact that I've never been just another one of your conquests?"

They reached the sitting room, an elaborate affair of imported woods and silks and velvets that had, like most of the sprawling house, not changed much since Romano first came here, and which Romano had never thought suited Spain's personality. Romano stopped and let go of Spain in the middle of it. He tugged his own tie loose so he could start unbuttoning his vest and shirt as Spain said, "This is about the fact that we're married now, and marriage is about give and take, and that means that now you're not the only one who gets to make. Things. Hard."

Romano caught the phrasing and the seductive tone a moment after Spain said it and a moment before Spain reached down and grabbed the front of his pants. He gasped audibly, his fingers slipping off the buttons he'd been working on; he'd gotten the vest but barely had time to start on the shirt. Spain's hand squeezed and Romano whimpered and had to throw his arms over Spain's shoulders to keep from losing his balance. Laughing, Spain stroked him with long fingers, the tips tracing out what was now a very rapidly growing erection, and Romano couldn't keep his hips from jerking forward into his touch with every movement.

Squeezing his eyes shut, he tried to get a grip on himself, but without the strength of moral conviction to back up his limited self-control, he realized that he was basically helpless. He cracked his eyes open again and glared up at Spain. "Bastard," he whispered. On the one hand, he wasn't sure where this side of Spain had come from. After all, he'd spent most of his life watching Spain remain infuriatingly oblivious to France's sexual advances. On the other hand, though, he knew that Spain could be incredibly sharp when he was really, truly focused on something.

Spain was hardly ever focused on anything, but right now it was pretty apparent that Romano was the only thing on his mind. He looked down at him with darkened eyes and an amused expression, and his tongue darted out to wet his lips. Romano involuntarily thrust his hips forward even harder at that, his irritated façade cracking; he was only marginally successful at trying to reconstruct it.

"You know, Romano," Spain murmured. His hand was suddenly gone and both of them were on Romano's hips, turning him and shoving him into a nearby armchair. Romano landed hard, his breath leaving him. "I'm beginning to think that you don't really mean that." Spain bent over, leaning on the arms of the chair, and gave Romano a smug smile.

Romano just stared at Spain for a second. Suddenly he found himself without words; he didn't mean it, hadn't in a long time, but what was the point in admitting that now? Spain had always known. So he didn't counter with words. He just leaned back, very visibly getting comfortable in the chair, and didn't break eye contact as he unbuttoned his shirt the rest of his way with measured, deliberate motions, then moved on to the front of his pants.

Though he didn't look down, Spain could still obviously tell what he was doing. His expression faltered and his breathing picked up, and when Romano had his pants fully undone, he took Spain's left hand in his right and guided it down to place it, palm down, on his exposed lower stomach. And even though he was the one who'd placed it there, he couldn't keep himself from rolling his hips encouragingly.

When Spain kissed him, it pushed his head against the back of the chair, pinning Romano in place as Spain's hand shoved its way beneath the waistband of his underwear. As soon as it wrapped around his erection, Romano moaned and Spain took the opportunity to slip his tongue into his mouth.

All of a sudden, for the first time in his life, Romano experienced the strange sensation that he was trying to crawl out of his own skin. It must've been a side effect of having someone else do what he was used to doing himself. His whole body arched up, and Spain was still only touching him with one hand and his lips, and he wanted more. He grabbed hold of Spain's vest roughly with both hands and tried to drag him down; the chair was very large and Romano was quite small, so Spain was able to get one knee on the seat next to him. Which still wasn't close enough, but at least it made it easier for Romano to get to the front of Spain's shirt and start unbuttoning it.

That didn't last long, though. Spain grabbed hold of one of his wrists with the hand he'd formerly been using to prop himself up. Romano turned his head a little to break the kiss so he could give him a slightly confused glare, but Spain merely looked amused and then practically attacked his neck.

"Oh, fuck," Romano breathed. Spain had bitten him. Without even asking. Romano was pretty sure his personal code of ethics was strictly against any bodily injury being inflicted on him under any circumstances. Then again, it felt really good, so maybe instead of getting mad (because he just wasn't feeling it), he'd get even. Spain was more experienced, but Romano was still pretty sure that no matter how good this felt, he could bite harder.

And in more creative places.

"You are such a jerk," he managed to inform Spain through gasping breaths. "I want your clothes off."

"Stop whining," Spain countered in a sing-song voice between little kisses to his neck where it was probably already bruising.

"I don't whine," Romano insisted. He realized as he said it that he was kind of whining.

"You always complain," Spain said, and he nipped Romano's earlobe sharply.

"Stop giving me things to complain about." Romano's voice was a whisper, and there was no feeling behind his words. He didn't have anything to complain about. He felt better than he ever had in his life. Spain laughed, because of course he must've known that; maybe he couldn't ever read the atmosphere or a situation or even most people, but at this point he could sure as hell see through Romano's lies.

Then, all at once, Romano no longer felt better than he ever had in his life. It took him a dazed moment to realize it was because Spain's hand was no longer in his pants. He was about to complain – notwhine – when Spain pushed himself back, shoved Romano's legs apart, and dropped to his knees between them. Romano was slouched badly in the chair, and it startled him so much he instinctively tried to sit up. Spain's arms were draped over his thighs, though, and that made doing so impossible.

So he just started at Spain, wide-eyed, and Spain didn't move for a few seconds. He looked Romano over slowly, like he was trying to memorize his body – or at least what was exposed of it. It wasn't altogether that much, and Spain had already seen Romano shirtless plenty of times, but for some reason now it made Romano distinctly self-conscious.

Must've been because before he hadn't been overtly concerned with making Spain think he was attractive. Especially at this particular moment, when Spain was sitting there on his knees with his hair mussed and his green eyes darkened, in what was left of his very rumpled tuxedo, and just looking at him made Romano's cock ache.

He still managed to stare fairly evenly at Spain, though, pursing his lips to indicate that he was waiting. Spain gave him another one of those unfamiliar, infuriatingly attractive dark smiles before grabbing hold of the waistband of Romano's pants and boxers and pulling them down so quickly that he managed to get them over Romano's hips without pulling him off the chair. And if Romano had been self-conscious before, he was fully embarrassed now, because he didn't really feel inadequate but he was still being scrutinized down there for the first time. "Geez, you're just blushing all over," Spain commented.

Romano narrowed his eyes as he felt his ears burning and hated himself for the fact that he was grateful that Spain hadn't made any kind of tomato comment. "It's not fair. You haven't taken any of your clothes off and I—ohmyGod!"

Blasphemy, now. He was a terrible Catholic. But, he thought, everyone had to be a terrible Catholic once in a while, and when you found yourself with your dick in someone's mouth, that was probably one of those times. Spain had given him no warning – unless you counted getting on your knees in front of someone and pulling their pants down warning – before he had one hand wrapped tightly around the lower half of Romano's erection and the rest of it enveloped in what was suddenly Romano's favorite part of Spain's anatomy.

Romano's finger's dug painfully into the arms of the chair, and when Spain swallowed a few times around him, it was only the weight of the arms draped over his thighs that kept him from thrusting up into his mouth. "Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck," he mumbled, squeezing his eyes shut because his body had just pulled painfully taut and watching Spain while he worked just made it ten times more difficult to keep any of his wits about him at all.

Then Spain pulled away, and Romano cracked his eyes open to see what the hell had suddenly become more important than his cock. It was nothing, apparently. Spain was just smirking at him, and just before Romano could ask why he was no longer doing anything productive, he trailed his fingertips up the topside of Romano's erection, mirroring the motion with the tip of his tongue underneath. He didn't break eye contact, and Romano found himself having to work to suck in a breath and fill his unexpectedly empty lungs.

Spain's tongue darted out again a moment later and traced around the head of Romano's cock. A whimper escaped Romano's throat even as he bit his lip to try to hold any vocalizations in check. One would've thought that after the intensity Spain had started with, being slowly teased would've let Romano relax a little, but he was finding that now that he was watching Spain, watching him very plainly enjoying himself, he was only becoming even more painfully turned on. Each touch was sending a jolt through his body – jolts that, as Spain's ministrations became less intermittent and more a smooth litany of licks and sucks and occasional kisses, commuted into waves of pleasure that coursed through his veins and grew more intense with each pass.

It didn't take long until Romano had completely forgotten about being quiet and retaining his dignity, and very quickly his moans began to border on screams. That was when Spain suddenly and very quickly slid as much of Romano's cock into his mouth as he could probably take, and what had been intense before now almost immediately broke Romano's stamina and set him to crying out Spain's name as he arched up off the chair and felt the universe implode around him.

When it finally pieced itself back together and allowed Romano to return to his usual plane of reality, Spain was sitting back on his heels, looking at Romano with a rare self-satisfied expression, the kind he normally only sported when he'd gotten a particularly good zing in against England. He reached up and wiped the corners of his mouth with his middle finger, then licked it. The motion was casual, and Romano realized that Spain had swallowed. And enjoyed it. For some reason, the fact surprised him.

But he didn't comment, because a moment later, cogent thought fully caught up with him and he exclaimed, "Spain, you son of a bitch!"

Leaning back, Spain blinked and now appeared legitimately confused. Romano pushed himself upright with some difficulty and scowled. "We haven't even gotten our clothes off and you made me come! And you haven't!"

The apparent concern for mutual pleasure shouldn't have surprised Spain, but it kind of did. His confused expression was replaced with a grin as he braced himself on Romano's legs and pushed himself back to his feet. Romano was back on his as well in a second, pulling his pants back up as he attempted to get his glare to cover the glow of sexual satisfaction he couldn't get rid of. "Don't put your pants back on," Spain said, reaching out to still one of Romano's hands before he could get to zipping them back up. "You're acting like we're done."

One of Romano's eyebrows quirked, which was followed by an exponential widening of his eyes and a soft strangled sound when Spain shifted his hand from Romano's wrist to the front of his boxers and squeezed. He could feel Romano's cock immediately respond to that, though he was obviously not quite ready for another go just yet. Spain smirked. From the dazed tension on Romano's face, it was obviously uncomfortable but also not unwelcome.

"Get my jacket from the front hall, okay?" Spain asked, stroking Romano's length through the thin cotton and leaning in to brush a soft kiss across his lips. Romano barely responded to the kiss; rather, he was looking more and more dazed the more Spain moved his hand.

"Why do you need that?" he asked belatedly.

"There's lube in the inside breast pocket."

Romano's eyelids had gotten heavier and heavier as Spain's fingers teased him, but now his eyes flew open again. Spain was pretty sure that at first it was just the mention and the implication of lube, but then Romano stepped back out of his grasp and exclaimed, "You wore that jacket at the ceremony!"

"I did."

"You brought lube to church!"

"To be fair," Spain said as he began toeing his shoes off, "it used to be a mosque."

"Same God, idiot!"

Spain just shook his head and stepped forward to recover the proximity lost between them. He grabbed hold of Romano's hair and twisted the curl around his index finger. "Ch—chi—" Romano clamped his mouth shut steadfastly and narrowed his eyes.

"I'm sure that God will understand that I was planning on having sex with you as soon as humanly possible and that when I did I wanted you to be comfortable." Spain pulled the curl.

"Chigi!" The exclamation was out of Romano's mouth of its own accord at that, and as if to save face he added, "Okay, I'll get it, fine!" He was gone a moment later; Spain couldn't remember the last time it had taken so little effort to get him to do something around the house. Leaving his shoes on the floor, he immediately headed off toward his bedroom, leaving a trail of clothing across the room, up the stairs, and down the hall – tie, vest, shirt, undershirt, pants, socks.

When Romano finally appeared in the doorway a minute after he got upstairs, he was immediately hit in the face with Spain's boxers. He tore them off his head and threw them aside, looking quite irritable until he noticed that Spain was sitting quite casually on the bed, legs dangling over the side as he grinned at Romano. Spain could see his eyes immediately zero in on his crotch, and he could subsequently see how heavily he swallowed. "Did you find it?"

A second to recover, and Romano held up the lube that Spain had bought weeks ago and been keeping around just in case – though he'd known that that was only out of wishful thinking. He tossed it onto the bed next to Spain, and as he made his way across the room to stand in front of him slipped his shirt and his pants off. He smirked a little as he stepped on the toes of his socks in turn to pull his feet out of them.

"I've been thinking about you and me," Romano commented. He hooked his thumbs in the waistband of his boxers, the only article of clothing he had left, and just stood there for a moment. Spain reached out and took hold of the elastic as well, pulling it down slowly. Romano helped him push them down over his hips, and when he stepped out of them it was so he could crawl straight onto the bed to straddle Spain's lap. Spain arched his body up, but Romano held himself just a little too high to touch. "And I've realized," Romano said as though trying to draw Spain's attention back to the fact that he'd been speaking, "that every problem we've had in our relationship is my fault."

Spain's eyes widened; Romano had just said about the last thing Spain ever expected to hear from him. "That's not true," he argued, but Romano shook his head, reached up to Spain's shoulder, and suddenly shoved him onto his back.

"We both know it is."He leaned forward, getting down onto his elbows. Their faces were so close together that Romano's hair brushed across Spain's cheek, and Spain could feel the vibrations through the mattress when Romano shivered. "I want this to work, so I have to admit it."

Spain pursed his lips, biting back the desire to issue another denial. He reached up and pressed his hand to the side of Romano's face, fingers brushing some of his bangs out of his face only to have them fall back into it. He could feel Romano's fingertips toying with the hair on the top of his own head, and it was a little strange that he'd thought Romano would marry him at all if he were, in fact, totally incapable of being soft. Romano's eyes closed for a moment when Spain touched him, and Spain could feel him lean just slightly into his hand.

"I mean, it's my fault I've always pushed you away," Romano continued. "But it's also your fault you don't push harder. You were right about that. I wouldn't have hung around you all this time if I didn't care about you, and you've always acted like you have to let me say what I want and do what I want and not get my way in order to make me happy. You stopped trying a long time ago."

"I don't mind," Spain murmured. "You're not as difficult to deal with as you think."

"I mind." Romano finally settled his body down on top of Spain's, drawing a quiet hiss out of him both at the feeling of so much skin on skin and at how sensitive his erection had become through neglect. "I like how you've been tonight. I want you to be like this more often."

"I really don't think that'll be a problem," Spain said, his voice taut. Romano laughed a little and rolled his hips, and he'd probably enjoy the way Spain's eyes rolled back into his head a little.

"Idiot. What I'm trying to say is that you always just ignore my barriers, but if you'd push a little, I'd let you in."

Spain stared up at Romano, and Romano stared back and gave a devious little smile. Spain returned the expression. Seconds stretched out, and Spain kind of wished that Romano would move his hips again. He must've been able to feel the precum that was now smeared nicely across his lower stomach. Finally the hand that had been toying with Spain's hair came down to smack him on the arm. "Hello, I'm trying to get you to fuck me!" Romano exclaimed. "I know innuendo is beyond you most of the time, but come on!"

Romano grabbed the lube off the bed next to them as he nudged away the arm that was draped around his own waist, and shoved it into Spain's hand. Spain still just stared at him, and then he burst out laughing. Eyes widening, Romano looked almost offended, and that surprise probably contributed to the fact that when Spain grabbed his waist and flipped him bodily back onto the bed, so that he landed sprawled out with his feet on the pillows and his head near the bottom corner of the mattress, he actually shrieked.

He tried to sit up, but Spain was already over him and pushing him back down. He gave in almost immediately when he seemed to realize that Spain was actually going to do what he wanted (and the irony of Romano having had to tell Spain to do what he wanted and not worry about what Romano wanted – even though Romano wanted the exact same thing as Spain and for him to do what he wanted – was not entirely lost). Spain unscrewed the cap on the lubricant and smirked.

"England was absolutely right about you. Don't tell him I said that."

"Wait, what?" The expression on Romano's face had gone from incredibly aroused to incredibly horrified in a split second. "Right about me what?"

Spain hummed a little as he squeezed out some of the lube and coated a few of his fingers. "Nothing important. He just said you'd be a pushover in bed. And also that you worship the ground I walk on."

Again and this time with a little noise of outrage, Romano tried to sit up, and again Spain easily pushed him back down. "I cannot believe you would talk with him about that!" he yelled. "I am not a pushover, and—and I'm not a pushover!"

The fact that he didn't bother to contradict the second half of the sentence almost made Spain blush as he laughed. "I didn't talk about it; he did."

He leaned forward, bracing one hand by the side of Romano's head so that he could watch his face and reaching down with the other to begin teasing between his legs. The look on Romano's face was, Spain thought, priceless; apparently he'd never gotten that adventurous with his masturbating. Even though it seemed for a second like he wasn't even able to think anymore, much less talk, he soon gasped for lost breath and almost immediately used it to spit, "I'm going to fucking kill Engla—ahhhnd!"

"Let's get one thing clear," Spain said as he pushed that one finger into Romano a little further. "When I'm doing this, no moaning England's name. Unless you agree to moan my name when you do this with him."

"Shut the fuck up," Romano muttered. All of his attention was obviously now devoted to the very strange sensation he was experiencing, if there was any indication in the way his hands were grasping at the sheets beneath them and his whole body was seemingly trying to twist in every direction at once. Spain leaned in to kiss him, and although Romano let out a low moan, his body stilled a bit, and Spain kept the kiss soft enough to let him get a couple deep, relaxing breaths in through his nose.

After that, Romano seemed to forget about his assassination plans, because even when Spain moved his lips to Romano's neck, he remained quiet, letting his breathing even out and trying to keep it from hitching as Spain added another finger, and then soon enough another. When Spain whispered a little inquiry on whether or not he was all right, he didn't even bother to say anything, instead just indicating that he was fine by nuzzling against the side of Spain's face.

By that point Romano was starting to rock his hips a little, either trying to get himself to loosen up more or to get Spain's fingers deeper, or maybe both. Soon he seemed to get fed up with whatever it was, and he suddenly and firmly said, "Spain, that's enough. I'm ready. Hurry up."

Spain lifted his head and found that despite how relaxed he'd apparently become, there was a rather driven look that was back on Romano's face. He supposed, as he glanced down Romano's body, that if he were as hard as Romano had become, he'd be pretty impatient too. Mostly because he was that hard, and holding himself in check was actually fairly taxing, whether he showed it or not.

No sooner had he removed his fingers from Romano than Romano was sitting up and a second later grabbing hold of his erection. Spain gasped and realized that Romano's hand was covered in lube. Somehow he'd groped around on the mattress to find it without Spain even noticing and squeezed what felt like a very considerable amount out into his palm. Romano grinned, and Spain recognized the smug look on his face. He narrowed his eyes and, despite the fact that he was almost trembling from finally having Romano touch him after ignoring his arousal for so long, reached up to grab hold of his hair.

Now it was Romano's turn to gasp as Spain tugged in it, rubbing it between his fingers. Honestly, he'd thought about it enough and he wasn't at all sure how a lock of hair could work the way Romano's did, but it didn't matter in the end; the only thing that counted was that it apparently drove Romano insane. A low chigi could be heard as Romano exhaled, and in retaliation he squeezed Spain's erection harder and narrowed his eyes. Spain's body arched, and he pulled the curl again, eliciting another moan and a retaliatory stroke from Romano. He stared at Romano, and Romano stared back, neither of them moving for a moment but each of them holding tight to their respective erogenous zones.

And then all at once Romano lunged forward, letting go of Spain's cock only to grab him by the back of the neck and drag him into a desperate kiss. The hand that was still half-covered in lube slipped across Spain's skin, and he threw that arm around Spain's neck to keep from losing his grip. Spain, for his part, totally lost his own grip at that, and the idea of taking anything slowly was no longer part of the equation.

He pushed forward, letting his weight push them both over until he was on top of Romano. Shoving his legs open, he didn't break off the kiss until he absolutely did not have enough mental capacity to pay attention to that and to getting him into any sort of acceptable position. Romano seemed to understand this, and it turned into a mutual shoving and repositioning of limbs that could've been a lot less productive had they not had exactly the same end goal in mind.

Finally, once they ended up with one of Romano's legs over Spain's upper arm and the other wrapped tightly around his waist, Romano grabbed Spain's shoulders and pulled him down to kiss him, as though he was testing the position to make sure he still could. Spain looked at him in breathless surprise and muttered, "You're really flexible."

"Yeah, I'll show you exactly how flexible later," Romano replied, a distinct impatient note tingeing his voice. Spain couldn't really blame him. As he positioned himself with a little difficulty, Romano readjusted himself to make things easier. When they finally got situated, Spain found that actually pushing into Romano wasn't nearly as difficult as it might've been, except for the fact that he was so turned on he was shaking. He was halfway in before Romano made any noise at all, and when he did he was obviously trying not to gasp.

Immediately Spain froze, waiting for Romano to take a breath and relax and tell him when to keep going. But the order never came; rather, Romano just opened his eyes and bit his lip as he smiled, shifted his hips, and used his leg to yank Spain forward and bury him deep inside himself all at once. Spain cried out sharply and almost lost his balance. Romano ignored this, choosing instead to slip his hands into Spain's hair and say, "If I wanted this to be completely pain-free, I would've fucked you instead. So stop being so careful."

"You act like this is easy for me," Spain countered. It wasn't; Romano was almost overwhelmingly tight, and the task of finding and maintaining a rhythm of movement suddenly seemed monumental.

"In that case, either prove that you can fuck me harder than I could ever fuck myself, or I'll flip you over and ride you," Romano murmured. Spain moaned, squeezing his eyes shut at the mental image. That hardly came off as a threat, but he nevertheless drew out and thrust back into Romano again, hard. The taunting tone was totally gone from Romano's voice as he gasped out Spain's name.

"Maybe it won't be tonight," Spain said lowly, "but someday you're going to learn not to taunt the person who's got his dick in you." And with that he pulled out even farther, and Romano's eyes went almost impossibly wide with how hard he drove into him. And he didn't get a chance to recover; Spain simply set a brisk rhythm of shallower thrusts and stole any chance he might've had of coming up with something to say and actually getting his mouth to form the words.

Spain knew as soon as he built up a rhythm that he wasn't going to last very long. He wasn't a virgin by any means, but it had been a very long time, and jerking off never really did quite cut it. At first short little moans simply mingled with similar sounds he was eliciting from Romano, but as he felt his body wind tighter he began to move faster and harder, and when Romano grabbed him around the neck and used the leverage to reposition himself, the angle that their bodies were joined at shifted and all at once Romano was screaming and any chance that Spain had of hanging on for a decent length of time went right out the window.

"Oh fuck," he choked out. "I really hope you're—hnngh—planning on coming soon…"

Romano's eyes had been squeezed shut, and when he opened them now they were very dark. The hand with the lube had been very ineffectually clutching at his upper back, but now it was gone, and even though he couldn't really look too far in that direction, a tightening of Romano's body around him corresponded with the feeling of his knuckles digging into Spain's abdomen as Romano jerked himself off.

That did it. Spain expended the last of his energy on upping the tempo just a tiny bit more, and at the same time he lunged forward and pressed their lips together. If Romano was feeling any discomfort at the angle of his body, he was ignoring it in favor of clutching Spain's hair and lifting his head to kiss him as deeply as possible, his tongue immediately invading Spain's mouth and drawing his own out so that he could suck on it harshly.

And then, all at once, Romano released his mouth and tightened his legs around Spain. The hand in his hair tightened until it was almost painful, and Spain was pretty sure he was going to have a bruise on his stomach from the force with which Romano was stroking himself as cried out something that was half Spain's name and half entirely incoherent. He came, the hot liquid spreading over Spain's stomach and chest as his body spasmed in time with the thrusts Spain was still driving into him.

It was a matter of seconds before Spain followed. He wasn't sure if he blacked out or if he just closed his eyes, and he wasn't sure if he kept moving or if it was just the waves of his climax flowing through his body. The only thing he was aware of at all was where Romano was touching him – how tight his whole body was enveloping him, the heat of his bare skin, the pain from the nails that were now digging into his back as Romano clutched him for balance, and the sharp bite of Romano's teeth as he kissed his lower lip despite the fact that Spain was pretty sure those screams were his own.

Seconds that seemed like minutes passed, but then Spain was left trembling, gasping for breath and reeling from the shockwaves that were coursing through his exhausted and stilled body. Romano's legs loosened; their bodies were parted as he fell back onto the mattress completely, and it was all Spain could do to collapse to the side and avoid crushing him.

He lay there with unfocused eyes trained on Romano's shoulder, feeling stunned and well beyond words. It wasn't until Romano turned his head to look at Spain that Spain moved his gaze up. Their eyes met. Romano's bangs were slicked down, stuck to his forehead with sweat although his curl was just as perky as ever, and his cheeks were flushed bright pink, and Spain knew he must've looked the same way.

They just lay like that for a minute, catching their breaths and watching each other do the same. The first movement that was made was Romano, a minute later, reaching out and running his finger though the cum smeared across Spain's stomach. Without breaking eye contact, he lifted the finger to his mouth and sucked it off.

Oh my god, Spain thought as he felt his mind break. England was right.


It was interesting, England thought, to see the aftermath of a global conflict when the nations were left to their own devices, no bosses. The nations had learned the lessons of various armistices long ago; their bosses very rarely had that kind of hindsight. After France had been subdued and slinked away to foist his company on Finland and Sweden – who had undertaken a policy of nonaggression for the sake of setting an example for Sealand – and after they'd all realized that Romano and Spain had disappeared, three factors had come into play for the rest of the evening.

One was alcohol, one was cake, and one was the inevitable atmospheric outcome of a wedding.

All three were being brilliantly showcased by Japan, who was drunk enough to have gotten fondant all over his fingers and was letting Greece lick it off. For some reason, this irritated England, and England was already in an irritable mood because he'd taken a rather nasty knock to the head in the fray. He was now sitting against the wall alone, holding a glass of ice water to his head for lack of anything more suitable and nursing an overfull glass of chardonnay.

Japan had been denying that anything was happening or ever had happened between him and Greece for over a century, and now there he was giggling and being fed cake and not even noticing that crumbs were getting on his hakama because he was too busy listening intently to whatever Greece was saying to him. Greece, for his part, obviously knew that quiet perseverance had finally paid off; that much was written all over his face.

Tossers, England thought, and he was very annoyed.

He glanced over at Germany, who had a very drunk, very unconscious Italy draped across his lap. There were two perennial virgins if England had ever seen one. They weren't even heterosexual life partners – they were just completely clueless and inept. They had something great, and they'd probably never realize that they did, much less act on it.

Morons, England thought. And he felt a little bit better.

He took another long drink of his wine and as he did America suddenly appeared and dropped down onto the floor next to him. He swallowed and sighed as America just looked at him, wondering why his hands were unexpectedly devoid of food or alcohol and his hands were instead just fiddling with each other.

"It was a really nice wedding," America said at last.

England snorted and replied, "Yeah, it's a shame it could never happen in most of your country."

It took a moment of silence from America for England to glance over and meet his eyes, and he immediately recognized that he was hurt by the comment. It wasn't that England hadn't expected it to hurt; what was unexpected was how much it hurt him having said it. "Sorry," he mumbled. "It's not your fault."

"I was trying to compliment your wedding planning," America grumbled, and he took England's wine right out of his hand to take a drink from it. England vaguely wondered when their relationship had become the kind that made that sort of thing okay. But it was okay. America swallowed and added, "But I don't know why I bother. I know my opinion doesn't mean anything. Actually, you'd probably feel better if I thought the wedding looked lame, because you think everything I like is tacky."

England winced, because he knew America thought what he was saying was true. When America got aggressive, there was nothing passive about it. And England knew it was his own fault that it had gotten to the point that America was his closest friend but was still under the impression that England didn't take every instance of America's expressed approval and store it away for safekeeping in a little mental lockbox that he'd never, ever admit that he kept. "Bollocks," he said quietly. "If you admit I did something right, it's a sign that I did something pretty fucking right, isn't it?"

"Or maybe it's just me trying to make you feel better since you're sitting on the floor being a mopey jerk," America countered. England leveled a blank stare on him, and America simply returned it.

Finally England sighed and said, "I'm in a bad mood because China hit me in the head with a serving spoon." And because Greece and Japan are acting like they caught the fucking bouquet and I haven't gotten any since… since before you came along. But whatever. "But that doesn't explain why you're in a bad mood."

"I'm not," America countered. England could tell that he was lying because his nose always twitched a little when he did.

"What'd you come over here for, then?"

He expected America to either point out that at this point they hardly needed a pretense to hang out or answer that he'd come to make England cheer up, but he did neither. Instead he just took another drink of the wine, taking his time doing so, and finally answered, "That card you picked up."

"What ca—" Oh hell. England had almost forgotten about the little list of obscenities in his jacket pocket. He'd been significantly drunker at that point in the evening – drunk enough to think that there was a chance of no one seeing him steal it. He hadn't looked at it yet, but he was quite sure that there would be nothing of enough interest on it to make the blush that he could feel creeping over his face now worth it. "Oh. That one."

"I used to not believe anyone when they said you were kind of a pervert," America said. His voice was low, but no one else in the room was paying attention to them in the first place. "I mean, I realize now that it's true—"

"It's not!"

"Yes, it is." America seemed to have been totally prepared for the denial and seemed to just brush past it. "I just never understood because I didn't ever think you had anyone to… well, you know." Sometimes America's puritanical sensibilities prevented him from achieving completely inappropriate levels of bluntness. "I mean, as long as I've known you. I know before I knew you there must've been—"

England groaned at the thought. At this point in his life, all of his past relationships – or just relations, as it may have been – seemed very foolish. "Oh god, America, don't ask me about—"

"I wasn't going to," America said quickly, and for that England was grateful. "I'm just saying that I know that you can't possibly just be celibate forever. We all have, you know. Needs, or whatever they call it."

It was a sensible statement, but it made England bristle and he had to stop himself from gritting his teeth. America wasn't supposed to have needs. America was supposed to be happy just building factories and making movies and being fashionably late to every war. And of course it was dumb to feel that way, and England knew that wasn't so. America had never confided in him about anything like that, but he'd had a few suspicions about him and Japan after the second war and more than a few suspicions about the whole time with Lithuania after the first one. "So what's your point?" he asked, his voice almost inaudibly low.

To his credit, America didn't look at all comfortable discussing this. He rubbed his face with one hand and sighed into it. "I know this is something that we just… don't talk about, and that's fine, but… but I still want to know who you're wanting to use the card with!"

England's jaw dropped, and for a moment he had to grope around for something to say. In the end, all he came up with was, "What?"

He'd been staring at his hands, but now America turned to look at him, and he said anxiously, "Maybe in the past I wouldn't've asked, but that was before and this is now, and you're my best friend, and I'd like to know if there's… if there's someone, you know? And I'm sorry if you're gonna get mad at me for asking, but letting me know would be the nice thing to do."

At that, England was left gaping. America had never used the words "best friend" to describe him before, and even if being America's best friend at a time like this might not have meant much to an outside observer, he was pretty sure that America wasn't just saying that because he wasn't the most popular guy right now. Hell, he'd never even admit that he wasn't the most popular guy right now. And moreover, the idea that America not only thought that he was sleeping with someone but was concerned about the idea was… it was…

Oh my god.

"Who said I was wanting to use the card?" England asked as he snatched his glass back, and he downed about half of what was left of the wine.

"You picked it up."

"Maybe I just thought it'd be funny." Truthfully, England couldn't really articulate to himself why he'd picked it up. It had just seemed like a good idea at the time, but a lot of things seemed like good ideas at times when he was drunk, even if they turned out later on to be really stupid ideas.

"Is it funny?" America asked earnestly. Everything about him was always so damn earnest.

"No." England was quite sure that at this point anything that could possibly be written on the card would not strike him as funny. He now realized that if he took it out and read it, he'd just find it depressing.

"So what kind of stuff does it say, then?" America sounded somewhat exasperated, like he thought that England wasn't telling him the whole truth. England couldn't very well fault that, since the last time he'd ever been completely honest with America had been the day he failed to kill him. And in the end, the tears hadn't seemed to really penetrate America's thick skull anyway. America probably still had no idea that he'd ever broken England's heart, much less done it more than once.

"I don't know," England said, refusing to meet America's eyes. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the card, now neatly folded in half. He stared at the blank outside and added, "I haven't read it."

"Oh." America's response was unexpectedly brief and passive, and England waited a few moments, thinking that he'd say something more, but the addendum never came. Finally he glanced over and found America with his arms crossed over his chest, staring pensively at what was most likely nothing at all.

He sighed and finished off the last of the wine. He fiddled with the card in his fingers and stared at a spot on the floor. It had been well over two hundred years since their relationship began to morph into whatever it was now, which, all things considered and from England's point of view at least, was an awkward and undesirable but unavoidable limbo. It wasn't what he wanted, and it wasn't cold or detached enough to make not having what he wanted a little easier to ignore. It was halfway there.

England took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He wished he had more alcohol, but he couldn't leave before he said what he'd suddenly realized what he wanted to say. He knew that what he wanted to say wasn't the best possible thing that he could say, but it was all he could bring himself to. He was willing to admit to himself that, at least in his personal life, he was a coward.

"How about this," he said. His own voice sounded foreign to him. "How about you take the card and read it, and if there's anything interesting in it you can show me?"

He looked over at America slowly, finding that America was doing exactly the same thing. Their eyes met, and England could see that even if America was frequently appallingly thick, he understood what England was saying at this moment, and the implications that his reaction would have. There was an out. He could choose to accept the baser meaning. Or he could pretend that he thought England meant literally show him the interesting sentence in question, and they could pretend the ambiguity had never occurred and things would be just the same and England would keep on with his broken heart.

England held out the card, and America slowly reached out to accept it. He stared at it for a long second, then opened it up and looked over it. Feeling his heart pounding in his ears, England looked away and tried to keep his face from going red or his breath from getting faster. As far as he knew it could've been a minute or an hour before America's voice penetrated his hearing again.

"I'd like to show you almost all of this, actually." America's voice sounded so casual that England immediately winced, then glanced over at him. With a shrug, America tucked the card into his own jacket pocket and added, "But I can't show you any of it in public."